Thursday, July 07, 2011

Reading to Write

I am currently writing The Night Watch, a sequel to my upcoming novel Pirates of Mars (November, Hadley Rille Books). A large part of The Night Watch is a battle between two space ships. Now, I had a general idea about the battle, but the specifics of it were Just Not Coming Together. This was greatly hampering my writing progress.

Then, and (at the time unrelatedly) I read Neptune's Inferno, which is a history of the naval battles for Guadalcanal. A little-known fact about those battles is that the US Navy suffered over twice as many people killed as did the US Marine Corps. Due to a variety of factors, from the inability of carrier air groups to operate at night to a simple lack of carriers on both sides, these casualties were largely incurred in several ship-vs-ship night actions.

Now, the battle in The Night Watch is not in whole or part taken from any historical battle. However, the flavor of the battles will be in the book. For example, as the battles were largely fought at night and in the infancy of radar, there was perpetual confusion as to where ships were and whether or not they were friend or foe. Also, many of the men below decks had little or no idea what was going on until their ship got hit. Lastly, in several of the battles, captains and admirals decided to back off after taking some initial hits.

These real-life factors will be in my story. They will hopefully improve the story, and point to the importance of reading in order to write.

Image: USS Helena (CL-50), a veteran of the Guadalcanal battles. Image from Wikipedia.

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